A healthy work-life balance is crucial for a fulfilling and happy existence. It's beneficial for one's sense of professional and personal accomplishment. If you have the right blueprint, striking a healthy work-life balance can be as easy as pie.
What is Work-Life Balance
Having a good work-life balance means you're able to devote about the same amount of time to your personal and professional life. Time at work, on remote work, or in other job-related activities is counted toward the "work" column. The life part of this balance usually consists of things like social and personal hobbies, time spent with loved ones, and free time.
Each person, and even the same person at different points in their lives, may have a unique picture of what constitutes a healthy work-life balance. Achieving a healthy work-life balance has numerous positive effects on one's life.
Why Work-Life Balance is so crucial?
As new generations (with different expectations) have entered the workforce, the concept of a healthy work-life balance has changed drastically over the years. More and more businesses are realizing that investing in their employees' health and happiness is directly correlated with fostering a culture that supports flexible work arrangements.
Why? This is due to the fact that studies have shown that a healthy work-life balance is good for both the company and its employees.
Harvard Business Review estimates that annual healthcare expenditures due to employee burnout cost the United States between $125 billion and $190 billion. A five-year study also indicated that workers who put in more than 55 hours per week have a 1.66-fold increased risk of developing depression.
By addressing these concerns, employers can not only reduce costs associated with employee turnover and absenteeism but also create a more dedicated and effective team.
Why is it so difficult for workers to find a balance between their professional and personal lives?
Groupon, an online retailer, surveyed its customers in 2019 and found that 60% of Americans have trouble striking a work-life balance, with 40% saying they put in too many hours.
There are a number of factors that contribute to workers' inability to strike a healthy equilibrium, including:
A belief is that making a good impression at work will increase one's chances of being promoted or getting a raise.
Unable to relax until all tasks are crossed off the list.
Heavy workloads that can't be finished without staying late.
Changes in domestic circumstances of a significant nature, such as the arrival of a new child, the care of an ailing family member, or a relocation.
How to recognize the signs of distress in others
An employee who is having trouble striking a good work-life balance may appear fatigued stressed, and emotionally distant. As they try to keep their heads above water, their personal and professional lives will suffer
They are more prone to make mistakes on the job or fall behind schedule, and their mental and physical health may suffer as a result of the added stress. Furthermore, when they try to handle an unreasonable amount of work, they are more likely to miss out on key personal events.
Lack of work-life balance takes on a slightly different appearance in COVID-19 when most office workers are remote. Workers may check emails late at night and on the weekends, skip lunch, and spend more time than normal at their desks.
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The positive effects of finding a healthy work-life balance
Employees that prioritize their work-life balance tend to be more productive and stay with the same employer for a longer period of time. Happy workers produce better output, which benefits the company as a whole.
In the event that you discover that work-life balance is not a top priority at your company, you may want to have a conversation with your manager about the ways in which encouraging work-life balance may benefit both you and the team as a whole.
Without a way to strike a balance, working longer hours and taking on more responsibility is likely to have the opposite effect of what they want.
Tips for better work-life balance
Set firm limits.
Setting limits at work helps you make time and mental space for the things that matter most to you outside of work. Not taking work home, not reading work emails on weekends, and leaving the office on time every day are all examples of limits you could set for yourself.
There may be unexpected circumstances or last-minute changes that require you to deviate from this schedule, but please try your best to adhere to the guidelines provided.
To feel more at ease enforcing these restrictions, it can be helpful to have a conversation about them with your manager.
Value your time and use it wisely.
To maintain a healthy work-life balance, it's important to make the most of your time in both the professional and personal realms.
If you make it a point to spend your free time engaging in interests or pursuits that are in line with your values, you will find that you have more energy and a greater sense of purpose.
Knowing you can have a rich life outside of work makes it easier to give your whole attention to your job. Similarly, if you challenge yourself with interesting work, you'll likely come to enjoy it and appreciate it as much as your personal life.
Making a promise to someone else increases the likelihood that they will follow through on a personal goal.
For example, you and a pal could join up for an exercise class, offer to throw a party, or buy concert tickets. Making a promise increases the likelihood that you will keep your work-life balance as planned.
Timetable a recurrent event
A commitment to a certain activity on a regular basis, like the idea of spending personal time meaningfully, might help improve work-life balance by giving direction to personal activities.
Being consistent is more important than ever since it allows you to hone your talents, watch your accomplishments accumulate over time, and feel a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment from the things you do for yourself.
If you're trying to strike a work-life balance for the first time, it can be helpful to take baby steps that are easy on both you and anyone else who may be affected by your new routine.
Setting one work boundary and adhering to it for a few weeks before introducing a new one is one such example.
In terms of socializing, this can entail committing to one activity once a week and gradually introducing others. Success at the outset enhances the likelihood of continuing with the practice and may even serve as inspiration to launch further similar initiatives.
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Multitask only when possible
It's counterintuitive, yet multitasking can help some people have a better work-life balance. Teachers who need to be out of the classroom by a certain time may, for instance, decide to grade papers at home while watching television.
Working from home allows individuals to make the most of their early departure time by devoting those hours to something significant to themselves, resulting in a more healthy work-life balance.
You can improve your work-life balance by doing things like joining a conference call while commuting to work or working during lunch.
Don't try to be flawless
The core concept of work-life balance is dividing one's focus and effort across multiple pursuits rather than devoting one's entire being to just one of them.
It's helpful to recognize early on that the limits necessary to maintain this equilibrium are not compatible with perfectionism.
If for you, picking up the kids from school at the end of the day represents a real work-life balance, then you should feel free to leave your job undone at that time.
Despite best efforts, there will be occasions when you are unable to follow through on personal commitments or return to work with your full attention following an important personal weekend.
Reminding yourself that striking a work-life balance is difficult and that you may not always succeed in doing so can help you control your expectations.
Allow for some wiggle room in your plans.
Maintaining a work-life balance does not necessitate dividing your time and focus evenly between the office and the rest of your life.
Sometimes it will be more beneficial to prioritize one over the other. What matters is that you know you should strike a balance, that you have procedures in place to help you do so, and that you can adapt to new routines as necessary.
Being adaptable allows you to place temporary changes in the perspective of the whole.
Your work hours are a perfect illustration of this. Even if you usually put in a full eight hours at the office, you might have to leave early one day to attend an out-of-town friend's lunch or your child's Christmas concert.
It's easier to balance work and life responsibilities when you have the flexibility to stay late one night and make up for it the next.
Keep an eye on your progress
In order to achieve a better work-life balance, it is recommended to track your progress every few months. Perhaps you've found it difficult to stick to a certain boundary that you set up and would now like to make some changes. Think about what other options you have and how to broach the subject with your superiors.
Determine times of high output
It shouldn't matter when the time of day work gets done, as long as it gets done. Some people thrive on the fresh start of a new day and are at their most innovative and productive first thing in the morning, while others function better later in the day.
To lessen procrastination and the stress that comes from a lack of productivity, workers should focus on what they do best and schedule their work around the most productive times of the day.
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Break up your day with regular rest periods.
It's helpful to arrange multiple breaks throughout the day, whether you work from home or in an office. Taking breaks can help you get more done in your allotted work time by reducing the number of times you become sidetracked by friends, family, or even housekeeping.
Most people can only focus intensely for 90 minutes at a time, so taking frequent breaks to rest and rejuvenate is essential for maintaining productivity.
Adhere to a regular schedule of working hours
Choose a time frame and adhere to it, whether that's 9 am-5 pm or 7 am-3 pm. It's not easy to get back into a regular pattern if workers have made it a habit to let work interfere with their time with friends and family in the evenings.
Your boss and coworkers will continue to expect you to respond to emails at 10 o'clock at night if you make it a practice to do so. Instead, be sure your coworkers know that you always clock out at the same time and won't be reachable till the next morning.
Develop a strategy for the future
Control your "deadline stress" by making a comprehensive plan that includes due dates for all impending assignments and chores.
A long-term strategy will allow you to more evenly distribute your workload and see at a look which project needs your immediate attention.
How to juggle home and work
The ideal method to strike a work-life balance is the way that works best for you, but there are some guidelines to follow. Maintaining a good work-life balance is an ongoing process.
There will be times when you feel torn between business and your personal life, but the key is to make time for both. Let's dissect each of these suggestions and figure out how you may incorporate them into your own work.
Put away your gadgets and stop working.
Now more than ever, it might be difficult to put work behind you after the workweek is done. Having your work always within reach has its advantages, but it may become a burden if it prevents you from relaxing. If you can, try not reading your email or notifications outside of normal business hours.
You can aid these endeavors by establishing limits with your coworkers or customers. If you return their calls, emails, or messages outside of business hours, they will expect to be able to reach you whenever they need you.
Make it clear that you won't be available for contact outside of normal business hours, but do make arrangements for how to be reached in an emergency. Eventually, you'll have more command over your life if you learn to ignore work updates when they come in on your own time.
Taking work home with you is inevitable at times. Set a timer if you need to get work done away from the office, and don't go over that time. If your job needs you to be online constantly, here are some tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Control your procrastination habits.
It's vital to prioritize chores so that you can get your work done in the office, but it's also important to take breaks and undertake mindless hobbies when they prove helpful.
If you're having problems setting priorities, look for things that need to be done right now and things that will have a big impact with little effort on your part.
Lower on the priority list should be activities that are not time-sensitive, will have little to no impact, or will take a long period to yield value. The point is to make the most of each workday so that you may relax and have fun while you're not at the office.
If procrastination is a problem for you, divide large undertakings into smaller, weekly, or monthly goals. Make it a point to only work during a specific time slot if you have the freedom to choose your own hours.
Schedule time to work on a project during your free time. If you need to, you can even use an alarm to force yourself to work uninterrupted until the timer goes off.
Maintaining a healthy work-life equilibrium requires persistent effort, and one way to speed up the process is to eliminate any potential sources of disruption during the workday.
Take a look at your timetable and see if anything has to be changed
Changing one's routine is sometimes necessary to strike a good work-life balance. If you've been working late on a project and need a night to rest and regroup, for example, you might reschedule or postpone other commitments for that night.
You can better direct your efforts toward achieving work-life harmony by learning to delegate responsibilities both at work and at home.
Attempt to pinpoint any parts of the workplace that could benefit from a reorganization. Perhaps there are responsibilities that you could delegate to someone with more time on their hands. It could be more efficient to work on the project as a team.
Talk to your boss about it.
Achieving work-life balance requires open communication between you and your management regarding your workload. The success of the organization and your own professional development are both the responsibility of your supervisor.
Most people won't know if you're feeling overworked or burned out unless you tell them. Maintain a level head and a professional demeanor, and suggest pragmatic answers.
This could involve adding staff, shifting roles, or providing tools for improving soft skills like boundary-setting and time management.
Practice work-life equilibrium.
Work-related stress and anxiety can persist even if you follow the aforementioned suggestions for a better work-life balance.
There are a few typical hobbies that can lower stress and anxiety so that you can enjoy your time outside of work, though you should choose a healthy stress-relief approach that works for you.
Working out on a regular basis is a tried and true method of relieving stress and improving one's ability to relax and drift off to sleep. Find a form of physical activity that you enjoy and make it a weekly priority.
You might also try meditating for a few minutes each day. The morning commute is a great time for a 10- or 15-minute deep breathing exercise, and bedtime is a great time for guided meditation.
Think about the things that you enjoy doing that help you relax and unwind. Whether it's painting, reading, crocheting, baking, or going on hikes, making time for these pursuits on a regular basis can help you de-stress and concentrate on your life outside of work.
It's up to you to figure out how to maintain a healthy work-life balance that works for you. The most efficient way to keep your motivation up at work is to set limits and leave work at the office. To advance professionally over time, a healthy work-life balance is essential.